The Merlion may be a myth, and the tiger may be extinct, but Singapore has a surprisingly vast array of wildlife on the island – including a few surprise visitors!
Monkeys disgust me. I don’t see any reason to like them. They are like stray dogs! Anyway, you see signs everywhere in Singapore warning you not to feed them (I think in fact it is illegal to do so here). I read somewhere that monkeys do 2 things in their lives: hunt for food and reproduce. If you give them food, then they don’t need to hunt, which in turn means they have more time available for their other hobby…and that quite frankly is why there’s so many of the bloody things in Singapore! Read about my experience with monkeys at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
Lizard and water monitors are mainly found in woodland and swamps. I saw a Malayan Water Monitor at the Botanic Gardens, and these can grow as large as a Komodo Dragon in term of length, but thankfully they are not as heavy or as ferocious! Smaller lizards can be seen all over Singapore, and use storm drains to travel into more urban areas.
Wild Boar are present in Singapore, especially on Pulau Ubin, where they are allowed to remain “wild”. They can be quite scary if they come charging towards you, so remember never to startle them. I also saw some wild boar on my series of unfortunate events around the Lower Peirce Reservoir one day, although I wonder how long they will remain alive…
I haven’t myself seen a saltwater crocodile in Singapore yet, but they do exist and in growing numbers. The only place in the island they can be found regularly is at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, although the ones found residing in Singapore do not usually grow anywhere near as large as the ones found in Papua New Guinea and northern Australia.
Reticulated Pythons are endemic to Singapore and can mostly be found in storm drains and flooded forest. However, some may be found in tree canopies much closer to home than expected! It is not normal to see a python in Singapore, however you should always be a little wary, especially with young kids around. Read more about my experiences with snakes in Singapore.
Around the areas of Sungei Buloh and Macritchie you can usually find many families of otters. These playful mammals will sometimes even put on a show for you as they frolic in the marshland. The baby otters are particularly enjoyable to watch!
Bugs in Singapore can get quite large and scary due to the temperature and climate, as you can see from this dead praying mantis found on the roadside! Spiders and even scorpions are frequently seen in Singapore, too, although the latter usually only in the foliage. In 2016, there have been more and more sightings of the fearsome Giant Asian Hornet in Singapore.
I am not too interested in ornithology, but nevertheless birdlife is omnipresent in Singapore, and as you would expect for a country in the tropics, there are many kinds of wildfowl that are here on migration from colder climates. The hornbills are always my favourite to see, with their colourful feathers, although I always hear really weird noises early in the mornings which come from some kind of bird, even in built up areas such as Marina Bay, but as yet I have not worked out which bird it could be. An owl, perhaps?
Back into the waters, especially around Changi and the west, you can see a dugong or two. These sea cows regularly frolic around the shores of Singapore, and you may also see other big mammals in the sea such as the Irrawaddy Dolphin in and around the Straits of Johor.
I am also told that the Asian elephant visits Singapore occasionally, as a visitor from Malaysia presumably. I find that hard to believe that elephants would not be shot and poached in such an urban country as Singapore, so perhaps that’s just an old wives’ tale! Other visitors include the Malayan Flying Lemur and the cute-but-critically-endangered Slow Loris. I wonder how they get across the Johor Strait?!